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TNEALJune 24th, 2010, 4:49 am

Posts: 277
Spence, I don't know if you ever knew Al Westervelt, one time owner of Ray's (now Old AuSable ) in Grayling.... Al was quite the fisherman as well as being a real gentleman. He told me many years ago that he regularly caught more big fish by twitching Hex nymphs around mud banks than any other method,
TNEALJune 24th, 2010, 5:22 am

Posts: 277
.... and I put that into practice...
OldredbarnJune 24th, 2010, 8:27 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600

I can't say I knew Al. I also can't say I never met him...I'm not sure how long it had been that Steve Stoddard ran the place but I don't think I have a memory there before his tenure there. The years are starting to blend together...It's funny sometimes when someone comes up to me, usually a now grown up shop rat from Gates', and says, "don't you remember...etc"...Because I don't aways remember.

I remember having wonderful scavenger hunts in there with my fishing friend Bill Monahan...Bill knows what he's looking at and when I first started tying he took me in there and we dug around in those old wooden drawers they had in there...We found some great stuff and it took me years of tying to finally figure out exactly what treasures I had.

Bill would just say, "You will need this, and this, and for five bucks you could use this..." I would leave with piles of stuff...Cheap necks with perfectly shaped hackle tips for wing material etc...Great colors etc...Most folks would of passed it up for the new genetic feathers, but he had a use for everything we bought. It just took me awhile to figure it out for myself. As the years passed and I got better at it I would stumble on to some of the materials I had purchased with him and a bell would go off...."Damn I have this! When did I get that? Oh my god , this is perfect!" When I told Bill this he would just laugh and shake his head and say, "Damn Spence...It took you long enough!"

Anyway! Since this started out as a Hex thread...The non-Michiganders may want to follow this link for this little Hex video from the Old Au Sable Fly Shop in Grayling...Stay till the end.

If that don't work go to Look under their video's and pick the one about the Hex.

The shop we are speaking of here is in downtown Grayling right on the river. I don't know how long it's been there but its been a very long time. It has changed hands a couple times and I'm pulling for them to get back to the glory days and they are doing a great job. It used to be called Ray's Canoe's and one side of the building had a canoe livery and the other side a fly shop that was called the Fly Factory...

Andy, who is running the place now, is one of those "now grown up shop rats from Gates'" I mentioned earlier...He was a teeny-bopper when I first met him. For now they have stopped the canoe livery part of the old business and turned the whole place in to a fly shop. It's a must stop if you are nosing around the Au Sable or the Manistee...Hell! They may even have a few old Tim Neal or Jerry Regan flies in the bins in there!

I was actually formally introduced to Carl Richards in there many moons ago. I had met him before but was never introduced...My friend Bill & I were on one of our material hunts in there and he came in and Bill & he knew each other from back in the 70's. Bill actually gets a nod in "Selective Trouts" anniversary edition...He had an article in Sports Illustrated back in the 70's and was called a "protege of Doug Swisher's" in it...Can you believe that Sports Illustrated actually had a fishing article in it and part of it had my friend's midge patterns in it! Midges! If it was the swim suit issue no one would of seen them, eh! :)

Hey Mr. Neal...How's about a Private Message recipe for a good Hex nymph...It don't have to be one of your secret one's!!!


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
WiflyfisherJune 24th, 2010, 8:45 am

Posts: 618
What ever happened to the Annual TroutBum Barbecue? Is that still happening every year?
John S.
OldredbarnJune 24th, 2010, 11:25 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600

Those were actually during the last owners time, but I'm not sure if the new guys are doing it still or not. Will have to look for it. I'm not completely sure how long its been since the ownership change...Maybe a couple years, three at most...What's happened to my memory?

So, have you been? I never made it to the actual BBQ because I could never talk myself off the river long enough to go...I've been a vegetarian since I was 16 so the thought pattern went like this, "I have a Subway Veg-O with extra-extra cheese in the cooler in the car along with a dozen or so ice cold Molsons & a few chocolate chip cookies, I have rising fish here and maybe a couple less guys in my hair because they are partying down in town..." I fished instead.

That's a big problem for me John...I'm a life member of FFF but I'm not much for the Federating...I have made little baby steps this year to re-connect. If a guy's not careful there are aspects of our sport that are custom made for a loner...And before you know it you are alone...Alone in your basement constructing flies you swear are "secret ones", alone on a stretch of river you call your "secret spot" etc.

I'm working on it though...I re-joined a club I left in the 90's, actually went on one of their "Trout Opener" outings, took a couple of the grown up now shop rats in to the Grayling Restaurant and bought them lunch, and have been sitting in a fly tying group in the winter months. I even let a group called "Trout Nuts" take a peek in to my generic nymph box.:) If you ever see the dry ones of Spence's posted you'll know that the re-hab worked...

Maybe we could skip the Trout Bum BBQ together one time down the road...There's room in the cooler and I know the folks at Subway could find something you like and my wifes not too fond of me drinking so many Molsons and fishing after dark alone...You are sworn to silence here mister...What she doesn't know she doesn't know and if she really does know I just avoid bringing it up.

Ok now, but can Spence wade you in to one of his "secret" spots??? There's the rub! But deep down inside we all know we only think they are secret...and then we happen on the thundering herd there one night and its off to find new secrets.


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
WiflyfisherJune 24th, 2010, 11:40 am

Posts: 618
Spence, I never went to TroutBum BB, nor have I ever fished in lower Michigan. I use to be on their email list and got an invite but I never made it. For me, it is just a short boat ride across the big lake on the ferry. I just never did it, or had the time.

So you know, I am not into those kind of things either. I was just curious when I saw Steve's name. I did enjoy reading their email newsletter.

John S.
OldredbarnJune 24th, 2010, 12:49 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600

What I remember was all good actually...I think that the proceeds went to river restoration projects or fishing groups...Steve did a great many things like that when he ran the place...He was always involved in the Fly Fishing Expo every year etc. He also never complained when we were tearing thru his bargin bins like the cheap wads we are instead of buying those expensive Hebert necks or saddles...

I really enjoyed their Hatch Chart and am happy that I copied it before the place was sold. Along with the angler's local name for a particular bug and size they had the scientific name as well and it was pretty detailed.

You need to check out Michigan rivers...So do I really...I'm addicted to the Au Sable and it's nice to feel like you know a place...But I have neglected some other nice places...Partially due to time fishing limits and partly because I love the place. I haven't fished the Pere Marquette for example since 1991! Just about the time that the Au Sable's tug finally became too hard for me to overcome.

I did fish a bit on the Little Manistee last year. I like to chase trout and the Little Manistee has them but they also get Steelhead & some salmon runs...For me it was strange to be fishing and then notice that a dark something as long as my arm just easied on downstream a bit. They have some hold-overs there that made me think about how much fun it would be to hook one in that skinny stream!

Take Care!

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
JesseJune 26th, 2010, 10:57 am
Posts: 378
that is freaking INSANE!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
Jmd123June 26th, 2010, 12:37 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2470
Yes it is, Jesse, and that's the way WE LIKE IT!!!

Jonathon the native Michigander
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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